Cindy Longley: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Cindy just loves helping her students find their place in the world
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Southern Autistic School to purchase equipment for the introduction of Media Arts, including items such as green screens, iPads, apps and movie making equipment. The grant has also enabled them to purchase music equipment, basketball clothing for interschool matches and recreation equipment for the playground.
This has benefited the students who attend Southern Autistic School, improving their curriculum, engagement, skills and interests that they can take beyond their schooling.
If there is one thing that is sure to bring Cindy Longley to tears, it’s the annual graduation of her Year 12 students at Southern Autistic School.
Many of her students have been with the school since they were three, so Cindy has a strong bond with them.
This often endures after they have left the school, with students popping in to catch up.
“All of our students have differing abilities,” Cindy says. “But we have had some that have got part-time jobs, that are travelling independently or have gone on to TAFE courses.”
Cindy says one of the highlights of her job is helping students develop the confidence to go out and join in with the community when they leave the school.
She initially studied as a primary teacher but is now the leader of the secondary school and is directly responsible for 56 students and 60 special education teachers and support staff.
Cindy initially chose to do a graduate diploma in special education “because it was available”. But she soon discovered it was her passion.
“I got the position at the school and I loved it so much I’ve stayed here ever since.”
She has made her mark in those 23 years, and her teaching methods are highly regarded for providing a progressive, dynamic and supportive yet challenging environment for her students.
Cindy has a holistic philosophy and has developed a network of local organisations to provide work experience for the students. This has increased understanding of people with autism spectrum disorder and their ability to contribute to the community. The students are also giving back through volunteer work at charitable such as Meals on Wheels.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.